Sunday, September 20, 2015

What's In a Name?

The boat we are is called “Great Blue Heron”, and the last boat we had was the named after some other bird. All the ABC Boat Hire boats are named after birds. I already had Bill tell you about the boat named “Gandolf”. Not all the boats have names, but there appears to be quite the artistry in naming narrowboats.

Originally, when all the boats on the canals were working boats they were all painted serviceable black with only the small rear cabin being brightly painted. These cabins became true works of art, but the names on the boats were usually the names of the companies running the service. This of course was useful advertisement and fancy artistic lettering and bright colours would have been useful in attracting new customers. The restored narrowboats used for recreation on he canals today often carry on this tradition, although I doubt that the “Narrow Dog Trading Co.” or “L, M & D Light Transport” are actual companies trading or transporting on the canals, and I know that these boats carry only people out for a vacation on the canals.

As with many boats, the lady of the boat seems to get her name on the side, so there were lots of “Elisabeths”, Mary Ellens” or “Heathers”, but there were also male names such as “George”, “Tom” or “Alfred”. Of course cute names are always popular such as “Four Jacks (Carrying four Jack Russell Terriers), “Mixed Emotions”, or “Great Escape”. Some names however you have to wonder about. What is with the purple boat named “African Dream”; what is African about a Narrowboat? Or why paint your boat pink and name it “Trojan”? What is “Armadillo” “ish” about a Narrowboat? Also, Gandalf was not the only fictional character to get painted on a boat; Aslan the lion from C. S. Lewis also made the side of a boat.

Also featured on many boats are their home location. We did discover that you can actually put anything you want on here, so “Middle Earth” works as well as “Anderton Marina”, and if some farmer named “Henderson” rents out private mooring spots, the boats “location” becomes “Henderson’s Wharf”, so the whole process is pretty flexible.

There were some neat names. I enjoyed the “Blue Buzzard”, and looked hard to see if “Dorothy Goodbody” referred the body work on the boat or the boats owner.


  1. Liked "Blue Buzzard". (Reminded me of an education reading group!!!)

  2. Yup, that is why I liked it. Thought of you when I saw the boat.